Theoretical and Computational Molecular and Cellular Biophysics

Biological systems present exciting challenges for physicists that range from fundamental physics to highly applied physics. The new physics disciplines of complexity and self-organization reach their zenith in biological systems. We use the theoretical techniques of statistical physics, thermodynamics, non-linear dynamics, and quantum mechanics to gain insight into self-organization of biological molecules and their ability to carry out their function. We investigate the behavior of individual proteins, multi-protein aggregation that leads to beneficial protein interactions or catastrophic diseases, and protein-chromophore interactions that lead to engineering of proteins with improved function. We combine theoretical calculations with computer simulations. For large scale molecular motions such as protein folding, we employ computer lattice models that have been developed by our research group. For highly detailed investigations, we employ molecular dynamics computations using computer packages such as CHARMM, GROMACS, and GAUSSIAN.

Click here for an animation of our simulation of protein folding.

We also mathematically model the spread of infectious diseases. This provides critical information on which stage in the process is most likely to be amenable to interventions that may prevent an epidemic, or limit its extent. This provides guidance on how best to invest public health resources. A separate topic of investigation of the group has been on the effects of laser radiation on biological tissues such as the retina. An understanding of the biophysics of the laser induced damage affords new techniques for protection and setting safety standards.

For more information and a list of publications, go to the home pages of either Prof. B. Gerstman or Prof. P. Chapagain.

Experimental Biophysics

Prof. Richard Bone's group is focused on the physics of the eye and visual systems. In particular the possible relationship between macular pigment and age related macular degeneration.

prof. Jin He's group carry out research in nanobiotechnology, single molecule cellular biophysics and Nano/molecular electronics.